Russian Line Infantry Organisation

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Introduction

The Russian line infantry consisted of 46 musketeer regiments, of which 32 took an active part to the Seven Years' War, and of 4 grenadier regiments.

Composition and Organisation

Musketeer Regiments

Up to 1757, a musketeer regiment (2,626 men, including 233 non-combatants) consisted of:

  • Senior Staff:
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel (led a battalion)
    • 1 first major (led a battalion)
    • 1 second major (led a battalion)
  • Junior Staff (2 officers and 205 non-combatants) including
    • 1 quartermaster
    • 2 adjutants
    • 1 auditor
    • 1 superintendent
    • 1 train guide
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 surgeon
    • 2 assistant surgeons
    • 3 clerks
    • 1 drummer
    • 3 provosts
    • 7 oboists
  • 2 field battalions, each of:
    • 4 companies of musketeers, each of :
      • 1 captain
      • 1 lieutenant
      • 2 second lieutenants
      • 2 sergeants
      • 1 standard bearer (officer or quartermaster)
      • 1 captain of arms (Kaptänarmusse)
      • 1 quartermaster
      • 4 corporals
      • 3 drummers
      • 144 musketeers
      • 2 non-combatants
    • 1 company of grenadiers
      • 1 captain,
      • 2 lieutenants
      • 3 second lieutenants
      • 4 sergeants
      • 1 standard bearer (officer or quartermaster),
      • 1 captain of arms (kaptenarmous)
      • 1 quartermaster
      • 6 corporals
      • 4 drummers
      • 2 fifers
      • 200 grenadiers
      • 2 non-combatants
  • 1 depot battalion for recruitment and training
    • 4 companies of musketeers (same composition as the musketeer companies of the 2 first battalions)

Note: theoretical strength was never attained during the war

After 1757, each Musketeer Regiment was reduced to 2 battalions. Each battalion consisted of 4 companies of musketeers and 1 company of grenadiers. Some regiments were not affected by this reorganisation and retained their 3 battalions, these regiments were Moscowskiy, Kievskiy, Narvskiy and Ingermlandskiy.

Throughout the war, the grenadier companies of the Musketeer regiments were often converged into standalone grenadier battalions.

Grenadier Regiments

After 1731, grenadiers were the most reliable and deserving soldiers in each regiment.

The four grenadier regiments (2,501 men, including 220 non-combatants) were established in 1756 and consisted of :

  • Senior Staff
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel (led a battalion)
    • 1 first major (led a battalion)
    • 1 second major (led a battalion)
  • Junior Staff
    • 2 officers
    • 190 non-combatants
  • 2 battalions, each battalion (30 officers, 1,105 men and 15 non-combatants) of
    • 4 field companies each 200 grenadiers
    • 1 depot company of 200 grenadiers

Note: theoretical strength was never attained during the war

A company consisted of:

  • 1 captain,
  • 2 lieutenants
  • 3 second lieutenants
  • 4 sergeants
  • 1 standard bearer (officer or quartermaster),
  • 1 captain of arms (kaptenarmous)
  • 1 quartermaster
  • 6 corporals
  • 4 drummers
  • 1 fifer (Schirmer states that there were 2 fifers in each company).
  • 200 grenadiers
  • 3 non-combatants

After 1757, each Grenadier Regiment was reduced to 2 battalions, each 4 companies strong.

In 1761, 2 light battalions were temporarily constituted with volunteers taken in the regular line infantry regiments. Each of these battalions received two battalion guns. They were destined to “Klein Krieg”, to support the operations of the light cavalry.

Battalion guns

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, each Russian infantry regiment could rely on four 3-pdrs guns accompanied by 8 munition wagons. Each gun had 2 small 6-pdrs mortars affixed to its carriage (these small mortars were soon abandoned). In battle, these pieces were intended to be deployed in the front of the regiment. Observation Corps had Shuvalov howitzers instead of mortars.

Until 1756, there were no officer directly responsible for regimental artillery. In October 1756, infantry regiment was assigned an officer responsible for the organisation of gun crews. This officer was subordinated to the regiment commander.

During the campaign of 1757, the artillery attached to each regiment was reinforced by ¼ pud Shuvalov howitzers.

After 1758, this changed to 4 unicorns (8, 10 and 20-pdrs) for each regiment (5 by 1759). Toward the end of the war, some 8-pdrs guns were assigned to infantry.

Each regiment had a little detachment of artillerymen supplied directly by the Artillery Corps:

  • 1 NCO
  • 5 gunners
  • 10 fusiliers
  • 15 labourers (to manoeuvre the guns).

Each battalion guns was drawn by a two-horse team.

Artillery ammunitions were packed in 10 caissons with two-horse teams. The complete reserve per regiment was 750 cannon balls and cartouches (75 per caisson).

Each ¼ pud secret howitzer was accompanied by 4 two-horse ammunition carts.

Train

The regiment train varied widely from one regiment to another and from one campaign to another. Each infantry regiment had some 100 vehicles, mostly two-horse drawn, for artillery ammunition, cartridges, hand grenades (20 in the grenadier regiments and 2 in the musketeer regiments) , bridging material. tents, hospital, apothecary, treasury, chancellery, chevaux-de-frise, handmills, baggage of non-combatants and provisions. For forage, there were 10 pack-horses. To this we must add wagons to carry baggage of officers and soldiers. Each regiment also had one “market-wagon”. Staff officers also had spare horses and a large quantity of baggage.

From 1759, the chevaux-de-frise and handmills were abandoned and replaced by wagons carrying entrenchment tools. From 1761, the number of vehicles transporting hand grenades was increased from two to three. The number of provision wagon was gradually increased.

Tactic

Line infantry usually deployed four ranks deep, occasionally three ranks deep.

Each battalion was separated from the next by an interval of 6 paces. For combat, each battalion was subdivided in 4 divisions.

Regimental artillery was deployed in the intervals between battalions and on the wings.

References

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin, 1902, pp. 4, 28, Anlage 1

Konstam, Angus, and Bill Younghusband, Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Vol. 1, Osprey Men at Arms Series, No. 297, 1996

Pengel and Hurt, Russian Infantry Uniforms and Flags of the Seven Years War

rf-figuren, Die Russische Armee im 7-jährigen Krieg 1756 - 1763, 2008

Schirmer, Friedrich, Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, published by the KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, Neuauflage 1989

Viskovatov, A. V., Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900

Ziegler, Volker, Die Russische Linien-Infanterie zur Zeit des 7-jährigen Krieges, Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für hessische Militär- und Zivilgeschichte, 2005

Acknowledgements

Carlo Bessolo for the initial version of this article and Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for additional information